Poker in Las Vegas is big business. The last year or so has been particularly heavy with new poker room launches, as the big casinos compete for the big name players, and the big action that follows them.
The biggest action of all is the 'Big Game'. This is truly the number one game in town, and it attracts only the biggest players, and usually the biggest names. The Big Game has become the stuff of legend in recent years, with poker's elite squaring off – usually in the poker room at Bellagio. The Bellagio built a custom room – Bobby's Room – to house the Big Game, and make the players as comfortable as possible, as they ply their craft, and talk about the big time business of poker.
The most recent high profile poker room launch has been at the Venetian. The Venetian has made a number of moves to attract the biggest players, and recently it has attracted the biggest players of all, as the Big Game has played there a few times recently. According to poker room staff, the game came together three days last week at the Venetian.
Does this mean that the Big Game is no longer playing at Bellagio? Absolutely not. In fact, there were reported Big Game sightings last week on the same day (but at different times) at both the Venetian, and Bellagio. But, it is interesting to note that the game that has been so closely tied to one place has been 'moonlighting' at another.
Even before its opening, the Venetian has made a number of moves intent on making its presence felt on the Las Vegas strip. They brought in Kathy Raymond from Foxwoods to be the director of poker, along with some of the more experienced poker staff in town.
The casino hosted a huge gala to open their new room, and in fact an amateur player beat 2001 champ Carlos Mortensen to win a Lotus automobile at the promotional tournament for the opening.
You may remember reading here about Liz Lieu and Erik Sagstrom's heads up $200,000 matches, which Lieu wound up taking 2 out of 3 for a $200,000 profit.
The latest attempt to draw players into the room is a $500,000 freeroll tournament, to take place on August 11th, 12th, and 13th. To qualify for the freeroll, players have to play 50 rated hours a month for May, June, and July, or play 200 total rated hours before July 31st. The top 200 places will pay out in this freeroll, and it seems like a pretty good value.
They also have a double point promotion, where players will get double their point in food credits for hours logged at the room. Players playing under 30/60 will earn $2/hour in food comps as opposed to the norm $1/hour. Players playing $30/60 and up will earn $3/hour, instead of the norm $1.50/hour. Although the double points promotion was scheduled to end soon, apparently they are extending it through August to coincide with the $500,000 freeroll.
All in all, the poker room at the Venetian is a very nice place to play poker. There are a whole lot of things planned for the future here, and it will be interesting to see how the room does against established rooms like Bellagio in the ultra competitive environment of Las Vegas poker.
Ed Note: Don't live in Las Vegas? Play anytime you want in your living room at Pacific Poker